A couple feared their dog was going to die after it wolfed down homemade salt dough Christmas decorations.
Salt dough is potentially deadly for dogs but mum-of-two Jane Gardiner, from Livingston, West Lothian, only realised something was wrong when eight-year-old Teisha started drinking copiously and constantly needing the toilet.
Having discovered the hungry hound had snatched around half a dozen from the Christmas tree, it took a dash to the Vets Now clinic in Edinburgh to save the day.
Now Jane and husband Dave are backing vets’ calls for families to make extra sure their pets stay away from such festive hazards.
The couple got Staffie-cross Teisha as a rescue five years ago and know to be especially careful as she’s prone to eating anything left around.
But disaster struck just before Christmas last year when Jane was making the salt dough decorations from flour, salt and water.
“It was all a bit hectic as my daughter was three and my son was just one-month-old, but I’d made them before and Teisha hadn’t bothered so I didn’t even think there would be an issue,” said Jane.
“I hung them quite high on the tree, but I think my daughter may have put some lower down. Teisha started drinking loads of water, emptying her bowl every time it was filled up and wanting out for the toilet.
“She looked really bloated and I felt something was wrong. When I realised she’d eaten all the salt dough, I knew that was really bad and we needed help fast.”
As it was late in the evening, they called Vets Now and were told to take Teisha straight to the Edinburgh clinic. It’s one of more than 60 clinics and hospitals across the UK that are open seven days a week for out-of-hours pet emergencies.
“The high salt content of the dough led to a dangerously high level of sodium in Teisha’s blood,” said vet Kerrie Lovett.
“Symptoms can include vomiting, diarrhoea, increased thirst, urination, lethargy, incoordination, tremors, seizures, coma and potentially death. So, this could have proved fatal.
“Happily, we were able to start fluid therapy treatment straight away and that brought the levels down safely.
“Christmas poses all kind of dangers for pets in the home and even something as seemingly harmless as homemade decorations could be deadly.
“Dogs are opportunists and will eat almost anything, so you should always seek veterinary advice as early as possible if you are concerned.”
Jane and her family were just happy that the swift action prevented a Christmas tragedy.
“When we were told her sodium levels were sky high and felt it was touch and go, we were really tearful,” said Jane.
“We were worried we might not get our dog back and we didn’t sleep until we were told that while she wasn’t totally off the hook, it was looking better.
“It was a massive relief to have somewhere like Vets Now to turn to and very emotional when we were able to collect her the next morning.
“We’ve been even more careful to keep her in a different room to anything the kids are playing with that might be a hazard. And we’re certainly not making salt dough this year.
“I’d definitely urge every pet owner to be extra careful at Christmas.”